Saturday, March 16, 2024

Carnival Jubilee B2B Cruise Review - March 16th & 23rd, 2024

Carnival Jubilee B2B Cruise Review - March 16th & 23rd, 2024

Just the Facts:
Ship: Carnival Jubilee, 3rd of the Excel Class ships launched in late 2023 at 183,500 Tons & 6500 max guest capacity.
Captain:  Stefano Bonico - Hotel Director: Lars Juel - Cruise Director: Kendell Fire Wk1, Louie Clare Wk2
Ports:  Galveston TX - Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras - Costa Maya, MX - Cozumel, MX  - Repeated

This is the inaugural season of the new Carnival Jubilee and of course my 1st cruise on her. I’m cruising with the Dear Wife (DW) on a B2B (back2back) and have friends and clients on these two cruises.  This is my 112th Carnival cruise, and 208th and 209th cruises overall.
 
Saturday / March 16th, 2024 Embarkation / Day 1 
We were up very early (3:00 am) for our Lyft drive to the Tampa Airport arriving at about 4:45 am for our 6:00 am flight. Smooth security and check-in in Miami for our 8:30 AM flight to Houston IAH. We arrived in Houston at about 11:30 am. We then waited over an hour for the Carnival Shuttle bus. Once on board, the bus stopped twice on the way. We spent more time with the Shuttle than any other segment of travel…four hours counting wait times and travel. Once we arrived at the pier at about 2:00 pm it was smooth sailing onto the ship. No lines anywhere along the way…even security. We were in our cabin on Lido Deck and unpacked by 2:30 pm as we rolled on our bags ourselves. I find it much easier to board late and have done so on the last several cruises. We have an interior cabin as I originally booked as a solo then added the DW afterward for the first week. The cabin is adequate for both of us, we each have a wardrobe and the cabin is nice and clean. No worn carpet, lots of hangers, no scratches or stains…very nice. We went out through the secret door to the Lido deck to eat, I had an MDE Big Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Tenders, and Potato Fries. It was very good,..Big Chicken is a favorite. They were making final requests for guests to report to their muster stations so that was our next stop…ours was B-8 located on Deck 8 in ChiBang. We returned to the cabin for some much-needed rest and met our Cabin Steward Danu. We requested bath robes, ice, and extra towels. At about 4:30 PM, we sailed away into some brisk weather. The DW went up to deck 12 to meet the girls and I did a walkabout to see where the veteran Alchemy-trained bartenders were working. I had a beer at Summer Landing then went up to the Alchemy Bar. Three of my favorites were there: The Two Nicks together again, and Daniel. Wow! All Alchemy All-Stars. I then went by the new Golden Mermaid and saw CJ and Jason, two more All-Stars. I can’t wait to try some of the new menu cocktails at the GM. Very tempting to start but I knew I needed rest tonight and retired to the cabin. It was a busy travel and embark day for the new Carnival Jubilee.
 
Sunday / March 17th  /  Fun Day at Sea  /  Day 2
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. At about 8:00 am I went around the corner to the Blue Iguana for my favorite Carnival breakfast. I had my usual: Huevos Rancheros with Pico de Gallo, Shredded Cheese, Salsas, Arepas, and Watermelon. It was excellent. So convenient as our cabin location is basically behind the Blue Iguana. We did a brief walkabout and the outer decks are packed. We made a mistake booking during spring break, but I underestimated the effect of higher fares would be on the new Jubilee. We originally had planned on sailing earlier, but Carnival canceled the first month of cruises so we ended up with March dates. Our Snoozemate’s cruise will be back in February next year on the Pacific coast. The main pool and hot tub were packed with children…oh my. We met our group in the Golden Mermaid at about noon. The Diamond Luncheon was held next door in the Atlantic Restaurant at 12:30. We had a ten-top table and excellent service from bar servers to waiters. The Captain and senior officers were introduced by Kendall Fire the cruise director. She announced as suspected a full ship with over 6250 guests, but only 62 Diamonds. This is my first Diamond Luncheon since they introduced the new menu. I had my doubts when I saw it, but it’s a very good menu for this function. DW approved and complimented the vegetarian choices, she ordered the Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Feta and Almonds, the Artichoke Blue Cheese Fettuccine entree, and the Chocolate Crema dessert. I ordered the Teriyaki Pork Bites (excellent), and two entrees: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp (a Rudi’s Seagrill selection) and the Petit Steak and Fries (Emeril’s Bistro selection). Both were very good. For dessert, I had a very nice Five Layered Pistachio Cake. We never ran out of complementary cocktails including enough to continue the party back into the Golden Mermaid. This has become our SOP following the luncheon…this time it’s a St. Patrick's Day celebration. We stayed all afternoon and through their scheduled mixers: The Independent Travelers, the Singles, and the over-40s. I will have to say that this is the first time that I have seen one of these mixers hosted. The host did a very good job with humor, we even offered up one of our senior solos…his humorous selling point was that he could pay off student loans. It was funny. After a full day of celebrations, I knew dinner was out of the question, but I made it to Guy’s Burgers before they closed (barely) for a double burger & fries. Then it was back to the cabin for a full evening of rest. A great St. Patrick Sea Day on the Jubilee.

Monday / March 18th  /  Fun Day at Sea  /  Day 3 
Smooth seas overnight and I successfully slept off the St. Patrick's Day shenanigans from yesterday. At about 8:30 am, I went around the corner to 
Blue Iguana for my favorite Carnival breakfast: Huevos Rancheros with Pico de Gallo, Shredded Cheese, Salsas, Arepas, and Watermelon. The Pool Deck was already packed with guests. I took an Arepa and watermelon back to the cabin for the DW. Markets opened early in the Central Timezone so work started early…Good Day too. I prepared a laundry bag for Danu before we went on a walkabout. At about 12:45 we went to Cucina De Capitano for lunch. We had Mozzarella Sticks as an appetizer and ordered Pasta Bowls from the varied selections of pastas, sauces, and ingredients then desserts. I had a Limoncello Pie and DW an Orange Gelato. After lunch, we went to the Casino to get our $25 Diamond free-play. We’re not real gamblers but we did well at roulette, we ended up with $65 in real chips…I consider changing the play chips for real value at one-to-one a success and we did that and more. That will be our casino time for the cruise. We returned to the cabin and I updated my blog reviews and monitored the closing Market while watching three Errol Flynn movies on TCM. At about 6:00 pm I went to the Golden Mermaid for a very nice cocktail made by CJ Cornelius. For dinner tonight, I had Fish & Chips at The Seafood Shack on Lido Deck. It looked like two nice large pieces of fish, but it was pretty much all batter and little fish. Disappointing, I used to like the Seafood Shack. We went down to the Center Stage at about 9:00 pm for the 9:30 show The Residency. It was songs from various stars who resided in Vegas; Sinatra, Newton, Elvis, Tina, and more. We had great center area seats and enjoyed it. Following the show we retired to the cabin.
 

Tuesday, March 19th / Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras / Day 4

Smooth seas overnight and we slept very well. We were docked in Mahogany Bay by 8:00 am and it was a beautiful day. When we went up to the Lido Marketplace at about 9:30 am there were few guests on the pool deck, I guess most are getting off today. It was nice. It’s also bacon day (Carnival only serves bacon every other day) so we ate in the Lido Marketplace this morning, it was an adequate breakfast. We only intended to walk off the ship just to get in some steps for exercise today and so did so before it got too hot. It made it to 91° and very heavy humidity so those at the beach were fine but for others it was hot. We got in our steps and stopped for a real Coca-Cola (the ship has Pepsi) at Fat Tuesdays before returning to the ship. At about 1:00 pm we had a nice luncheon…I had a Big Chicken lunch and DW had a Blue Iguana lunch. We sat in between the two inside with cool air. Guests were already returning by the time we returned to the cabin for an afternoon rest. Updated the Blog and Photos as we shared our WiFi to check on the dog and grandchild. All well. We met the group at Golden Mermaid for cocktails at about 6:00 pm, but before we did we stopped at Dr. Inks Ph.D. for a new favorite cocktail. It’s a Crimson Catch: Swedish Fish candy-infused Tito’s Vodka, lime juice, Papa pomegranate liqueur, white Cranberry juice, and Swedish Fish Candy. Excellent. We enjoyed a nice cocktail hour+ before going to Emeril’s Bistro 717 for dinner. The DW ordered the Baked Brie with Croutons & Grapes, I ordered Red Beans & Rice and Roasted Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo. Shared Beignets for dessert. All was very good. Emeril’s dining area is the best of the three Excel class ships, more refined in taste and area. Owen Stephen the solo guitar feature began his set at Dr.Inks, next door during dinner, very nice. I met Owen many times previously on the Mardi Gras, he is a very nice guy and very talented. We did a walkabout stopping at Pixels on deck 8 to pick up the Diamond gifts; Pins and small toiletry bags. We then retired to the cabin. It was a FUN first port day on the Jubilee.

Wednesday, March 20th  /  Costa Maya, Mexico  /  Day 5 
Calm seas overnight and I slept well although woke too early. We went out at about 9:00ish and it was the opposite of yesterday. The pool deck was packed. The lines for my Blue Iguana were the longest I have ever seen at any time…from BI beyond the elevator doors. Maybe they read this blog? We went into the busy Lido Marketplace and made do with various breakfast selections. Danu had again done his magic and cleaned our cabin while we were away. We went up to the Serenity Deck and it wasn’t busy, we had a nice shared lounger in the shade. The pool water was rather chilly but great for cooling off. I was able to do some work as I have two-factor identification in Mexico. It became busier after a few hours, but we broke for lunch at about 1:30. We did the same lunch as yesterday, Big Chicken for me and Blue Iguana for the DW. We then retired for cabin time and a long nap until my Oklahoma Softball game @ 6:00 pm. We did see a guest with an OU NCAA Championship T-shirt today… a good omen as the girls did win 12-1 over UTA. At about 8:15 pm I went down to Deck 8 to ChiBang for dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten ChiBang so I ordered my favorites: Egg Drop Soup, Lettuce Wraps, Beef & Broccoli, and spicy Kung Pow Chicken…all very good. It was a very nice relaxing day on the Carnival Jubilee.
 
Thursday  March 21st  /  Cozumel, Mexico  /  Day 6 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  We docked early well before I went for breakfast at about 7:10 am.  I had my favorite Blue Iguana breakfast then took some assorted breads back to the cabin for the DW.  Knowing that Woody’s is now open early for breakfast we decided to get an early start and left the ship at 8:00 am.  We took a taxi ($10) to the Iglesia de San Miguel church and reflected for a while then off to Woody’s Bar & Grill.  We had Coca-Colas and access to the best WiFi in town.  At 10:00 am I went to Antonio’s Barber Shop while the DW visited with Nelly. I had a nice trim then went to Sensi Spa for my usual 
pedicure.  Already a productive day for me.  Good friends had arrived by the time I got back to Woody’s. The rest of the day was visiting Friends, Guacamole, Food, Cervezas, Shopping, Live Music, and more. At about 2:00 pm we returned to Puerto Maya and went to Pancho’s Backyard for a couple of Mango Margaritas and some shopping at Cinco Soles.  We watched guests returning to the three Carnival Ships and timed our return to the pier and ship accordingly to avoid crowds and the 90° heat. It was great getting refreshed once back onboard in the cabin.  We met the group for cocktails at about 6:00 pm in the Golden Mermaid then later had dinner at the Marketplace buffet.  Lots of good choices including Prime Rib at the carving station, Chicken Cordon Blu, a Vegetarian Lasagna for the DW, a Pork Steak, and more.  We retired to the cabin soon after dinner I was soon asleep.  It was a FUN Cozumel Day.

Friday March 22nd  /  Fun Day at Sea   /  Day 7 
Rolling seas overnight and I slept well, although I was up during the night so I updated this blog…just too tired to do it last night. Overcast and rolling seas today as I went to Blue Iguana for my usual breakfast. The Watermelon & Jicama salsa and Salsa Verde accentuate the Huevos Rancheros. BTW-they are calling them Tacos consistent with the change of signage a few years ago. I took another selection of Breads from the Marketplace back to the cabin for the DW. Soon the weather improved and the pool deck was again very busy. We did a walk about and it’s hard to imagine 6500 guests onboard. At about 1:00 pm I had a very nice Guy’s Burger with French Fries for lunch then we went to the Diamond/Platinum Reception at 2:00 pm in the Theater. It was hosted by CD Kendall Fire and she did a great and humorous job. Two bonuses as Owen was the musical entertainer and a Pilsner Urquill beer. I wasn’t the high cruiser but a distant second of the 79 Diamonds on board. The interesting fact I learned was the geographical distribution of guests. For the first time ever on a ship sailing from Galveston Texas was not the primary home for guests, in fact, they were third behind Arkansas and Oklahoma. Spring Break in those states was a determining factor. At about 5:00 pm we went to Dr. Inks for my new favorite drink: the Crimson Catch. We also discovered that Milo the Bartender there is the younger brother of Lydia one of my favorite Alchemists. We then met our group at the Golden Mermaid (photo) for an extended Happy Hour. The Ruby Rapture has been my drink of choice there. We all had dinner at Cucina de Capitano this evening. I ordered: Arancini, Nonna’s Meatball, the Pork Chop entree, and Baba Napoletano for dessert. Three very good entertainment choices tonight with shows in the Theater, Grand Central, and the Havana Bar. DW finished packing tonight as she is riding back to Fort Worth with friends to visit family. A busy last sea day on the Carnival Jubilee.

Saturday /  March 23rd  /  Galveston, Texas /  Day 8 of B2B 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  We were docked in Galveston early.  DW leaves the ship and I stay on today.  At about 7:00 am I went to Blue Iguana for my usual favorite breakfast…just so easy being around the corner on the same deck as our cabin.  DW finished packing and at about 8:30 took her to the Golden Mermaid the staging area for wheelchairs to meet friends driving to Fort Worth.  At about 9:30 I went to the Atlantic Restaurant the staging area for B2B guests. Debarkation slowed and it was after 11:00 am before they had everyone off the ship.  The good part of the delay was that the TSA Agent came on board to check us in the MDR.  We then went about our way…I took some photos while the ship was empty and did the Muster Station check-in @ ChiBang for B-8. Soon a big Travel Agent group boarded, followed by a Wedding party.  Then the masses began boarding so I quickly had Blue Iguana for lunch as it was easy and no line.  My burrito was excellent.  Within half an hour it was very busy so I retired to the cabin to do some work before my OU softball game @ 2:00 pm. I discovered during the game that due to weather the Sunday game will be today @ 5:30 pm so I made it to Big Chicken before they closed at 5:00 for dinner.  I always like an MDE chicken sandwich. OU won both games so 31-1 for the year and ranked #1.  We sailed away while I was on deck 16 so I got a different unique view of the Battleship Texas, a rare site in the Port of Galveston. I also had a small fruit bowl and Champagne delivered today as a B2B guest…thanks Carnival.  It was a very easy turnaround day on the Jubilee.

Sunday,  March 24th  /  Fun Day at Sea /  Day 9 of B2B
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  At 7:50 am I was in line at Blue Iguana.  I guess they read my blog as I saw them turn the sign around for breakfast: Huevos Rancheros - Arepas…they had not been doing that.  Breakfast was excellent as usual, that’s why it’s my favorite. I did a walkabout the ship stopping at the Casino for my Diamond Chips and at Pixels for the same pin and ditty bag as Diamond gifts.  I met our now smaller group at Golden Mermaid at about noon for the Diamond Luncheon.  I ordered the same thing as last week:  Teriyaki Pork Bites (excellent), and two entrees: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp (a Rudi’s Seagrill selection) and the Petit Steak and Fries (Emeril’s Bistro selection). Both were very good. For dessert, I had a very nice Five Layered Pistachio Cake.  Again we never ran out of complementary cocktails including enough to continue the party back into the Golden Mermaid. This is our SOP following the luncheon and this week the scheduled activities were different.  The solo gatherings were not hosted…only a sign was up acknowledging the location. Stephanie who hosted it last week and CD Kindell left us on Saturday. Not as fun for the solos or us, but Owen Stephen, my favorite entertainer on board, performed two full sets of his guitar and singing talents.  We broke up the little party at about 6:00 pm and I went up to the Lido Marketplace for dinner.  Very good selections including a very nice Baked Ham at the carving station.  The Mashed Potatoes were also excellent so I was very pleased with dinner.  I then retired to the cabin to recover from a full afternoon of professional day drinking, fortunately, that’s limited to only one day per cruise.  It was a FUN day on the Jubilee.

Monday,  March 25th  /  Fun Day at Sea /  Day 10 of B2B 
Rolling seas overnight, I had to get up and move the hangers in the closet, they were rocking away, but I slept well.  I was at the Blue Iguana by 8:00 am again for a great breakfast, good to beat the line on this overly full cruise. Although the Burrito line is usually 3x longer than my Huevos Rancheros line in the mornings.  Monday mornings are business mornings but no projects this morning.  My Florida Assumed name registration project has been resolved and the forms are in my home mailbox.  I’m registering as a Travel Agent in Florida so I can finalize moving Bosque Travel from Texas to Florida. I considered fully retiring but will continue for a couple more years. At noon I met friends on Lido deck.  The goal was to drink the Champagne we all received, but none of us was in a drinking mood from yesterday.  We watched the loooong line for Big Chicken, the longest I have seen on any of the three Excel class ships, that lasted for two full hours.  We all had Shawarma for lunch.  There is a station in the Lido Marketplace next to the Sea Dogs and Gelato stations.  I had two Beef & Lamb and one Chicken.  It was very good and only a short line. Reminded me of the recent Red Sea cruise in the Middle East…that was good Shawarma.  At about 2:30 pm I returned to the cabin for an afternoon nap and also booked an excursion for Costa Maya.  At about 5:00 pm I went up to Dr. Inks for my Crimson Catch cocktail.  I used my B2B drink voucher.  Then I met the group at Golden Mermaid at 6:00 pm as usual.  Tonight we ate at Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ located in Summer Landing on Deck 8 aft.  We had only a very short wait before we were seated.  I ordered the Brisket, Pulled Pork, St. Louis Ribs ($), Onion Straws, French Fries, and the Banana Pie for dessert.  It was excellent. At about 8:00 pm, as we had dessert, the Backyard Band began their set and we were seated in front of the stage.  They were very good and I’m glad we could see their first set.  I retired to the cabin and watched some NCAA March Madness basketball.  It was another FUN Seaday on the Jubilee.
 

Tuesday / March 26th / Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras / Day 11 of B2B 

Rolling seas overnight…enough to rock one to sleep. We were docked early. I had every intention of going to the main MDR for breakfast but when I walked by Blue Iguana with no line I had to stop. It’s just so convent for me being just around the corner from my cabin on Lido Deck. I had the usual and it was very good as always. Guests are getting off early and enjoying the beach that is walkable from the ship. As last week was not busy this morning on Lido. After breakfast, I went up to the Serenity Deck and enjoyed the Hot Tub for about an hour. It was nice. It’s very warm and so much humidity that it’s almost a visible fog. I’m not even going to try to go off the ship today.  I did a walkabout sat in on some trivia and visited Guest Services.  I went to Big Chicken for lunch and it was a small line.  I ordered my MDE sandwich and fries and sat outside despite of the humidity.  There was one brief moment when there was no line at Big Chicken…there were a lot of staff and crew going through, they are allowed on port days.  I had a relaxing afternoon streaming some news, sports highlights, and old shows…did you know there were Dobie Gillis movies prior to Dewayne Hickman?  Most featured Doris Day.  At 5:00 pm I went to Dr.Inks to have a Crimson Catch my favorite new drink.  Then I met the group at Golden Mermaid for another round of drinks.  We made reservations at ChiBang for dinner.  I ordered the Lettuce Wraps, Spring Rolls, Hakka Noodles, Cantonese Pork, Kung Poa Chicken, and Vanilla Ice Creme for dessert.  It was very good.  I retired to the cabin and watched some videos before bedtime.  I needed rest before my excursion tomorrow.  It was an easy port day for me on the Jubilee.

 

Wednesday,  March 27th  /  Costa Maya, Mexico  /  Day 12 of B2B 

Rolling seas overnight, just enough action to rock you asleep.  I was awake early and had breakfast as usual just after 7:00 am…Blue Iguana of course.  I was able to speak with Lars the Hotel Director about Norwegians in Texas.  At about 8:30 debarked and walked the long pier down to where the Ship Excursions meet.  Today I have the Chaachoben Mayan Ruins & Beach Break Tour.  I have been coming to Costa Maya for so long that there was no Zone Archeological Park.  There were small unofficial tours offered by a local family you could take from Mahahual before the State opened Chaachoben Archeological Park.  I wanted to see how much has been cleared and cleaned and how touristy it has become.  Very much is the answer.  These are not major ruins but nice for cruise guests who have never seen any Mayan Ruins and very convenient to the port.  There were dozens of buses and vans so yes commercialized and so very different.  Progress?  Perhaps, but Costa Maya has become a major port so more attractions are needed for guests… Mahahual alone is not enough.  I loved our guide, Daniel Balam, he was my guide at the Kohunlich ruins back in November and known for his Jaguar call.  Our next stop was at Uchbenkah, a beach pavilion along Balacar  Lagoon. Here we had 90+ minutes to relax with access to Fresh Water, an Open Bar, Snacks, or a Buffet lunch option.  It was primitive but very clean and nice.  We were returned to the dock at about 3:10 pm so time for shopping for those who wanted.  I returned straightaway to the ship and cleaned up from the hot and humid day.  I was too tired from a day of walking for cocktails or evening activities so made it to Big Chicken before they closed at 5:00 for dinner.  It was just what was needed before retiring.  It was a very interesting day in the Jungles of the Balacar area.


Thursday, March 28th / Cozumel, Mexico / Day 13 of B2B 

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  I was up early and had a bit of a change for breakfast as the tortilla maker is caput so no Huevos Rancheros this morning.  I had Arepas and Watermelon Salsa which is fine as I’m going to an all-inclusive today so can eat there.  I left the ship at about 8:00 am and did the 15-20 minute walk to Del Mar Latino Beach Club.  A longer walk from Puerto Maya than from RCL’s International Pier but easy once outside of the pier and vendors.  I started with a Coca-Cola and soon two friends came.  Very breezy and Caribbean waves are breaking over the wall so that’s different.  It was quite a show for several hours, the water would really do different things…very high over the height of buildings, or throw up a lot of seaweed similar to an explosion.  It reminded me of watching a fireworks show…waiting for the next display.  Photo is of HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, docking in rough seas. The weather somewhat cleared, but still breezy and cooler than normal.  Pleasant in fact.  Of course, I enjoyed the drinks and good food: Coca-Cola, Mojitos, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Coconut Shrimp, Chicken Tacos, Shrimp Cocktail, and more.  Only eleven people were there today so attentive service from Jassy and staff.  I went up to Guy’s Burgers for an always good Cheeseburger & French fries so that I could watch OU vs KU softball @ 5:00 pm. OU won.  I updated this blog and streamed other Sports and News before retiring.  It was a FUN Cozumel Mojito day.

 

Friday, March 29th / Fun Day at Sea / Day 14 of B2B 

Rolling seas overnight especially when we transitioned from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico.  I did sleep well.  At about 8:10 am I went for my final Blue Iguana breakfast: One Huevos Rancheros with two eggs, Arepas, Watermelon & Jicama Salsa, Pico de Gallo, Queso fresco (cheese), and Salsa Verde.  Excellent.  I do believe this is a record for me with the number of times for this breakfast, but my cabin is next to Blue Iguana…so easy.  I went to the Casino to play my $25 free play…I did get $25 in real chips so 1for1 and happy with the $90 I’ll be taking home.  Nice weather and a bit cooler so the outer decks are full and busy.  At noon I went to Bonsi Tappenyaki on deck 8 for lunch (photo), I ordered the Filet Mignon and Lobster combination…it was very good. IMHO better than the Steak House or Seafood experience on the ship.  At 2:00 pm I attended the Platinum and Diamond event in the Theater, I appreciated the Pilsner Urquell beer and entertainment by Owen Stephen.  Following I went to the Alchemy Bar to see some of my favorite Bartenders and make new friends.  It was enjoyable with some custom cocktails as well.  At about 5:00 pm I went to the cabin to watch game two of the OU vs. Kansas softball game.  I was able to leave early as Oklahoma won 17-0 so a run rule stoppage.  I met my friends at about 6:30 in the Golden Mermaid for cocktails and to hear Owen do a great musical set.  By 8:00 I said my goodbyes to good friends, bartenders, and bar servers.  I then stopped at the Seafood Shack on Lido Deck for Lobster Rolls...they were great.  This was my busiest day of the two weeks but finally retired to the cabin to pack for an early debarkation in the morning. It was a busy last sea day on the Jubilee.
 
Saturday,  March 30th  /  Galveston Debarkation  
Smooth seas overnight and slept well.  I was on Deck 6 with my bag in the Diamond waiting area by 6:50 am.  Soon after 7:00 am the Diamonds led the way off the ship.  The debark was well organized by Carnival staff.  Louie himself is active in the Diamond area.  Face recognition at Customs was easy. I found the Hobby Airport bus and was the second guest on it.  My goal was to be on the first and I was however they waited until it was full before departing…that took over half an hour.  We were off at about 9:00 am arriving just after 9:30 am.  Hobby is easy to maneuver and I was through security and at the gate well before boarding for my 11:20 am direct flight to Tampa.

Ship
The newest ship in the fleet with that new ship smell, so to speak. The Excel (XL) class is a great improvement for Carnival. The same basic design as the Mardi Gras and Celebration with a few minor changes…very well designed and two new Bars with new specialty cocktails.
 
Cabin
We/I had cabin 16282 an interior on Lido deck.  We/I loved the location…using the secret door you are out on the Pool Deck in one minute. The cabin has the usual push button safe, queen bed, two shelves, reading lamps at the bedside, a nice small refrigerator, a small bench at the dresser/desk, and a large screen TV. There are two large wardrobes and one set of drawers at the dresser. The bathroom is small and compact, but glass doors at the shower.

Crew
Loved seeing all the veteran Alchemists on board. Our cabin steward Danu was very good and friendly. The wait staff in the specialty restaurants were also friendly and did a good job serving us. They usually do have the best crew members on the newest flagship.

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
The MDR food is the long-time standard Carnival menu, but we never ate in the MDR for dinner with so many other options.  The Specialty Restaurants are numerous and very good. My favorites were Big Chicken, ChiBang, and Cucina de Capitano.  The Tappenyaki lunch was my best meal on the cruise.

Highlights of the Cruise
Extended Diamond Luncheons
Good friends on board
Cozumel: Woody’s Day
Blue Iguana breakfasts
Chaachoben excursion day
Dr. Inks cocktail:  Crimson Catch:
The Tappenyaki lunch
Big Chicken
 

 

 

 
 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review - February 22, 2024

 

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review - February 22, 2024
 
Just the Facts:
Ship: Celebrity Constellation- 2002 - Weight: 90,940 tons - Capacity: 2,170 passengers 
Captain: Morfis Passalis (Greece), Hotel Director: Cameron Robertson (Scotland),  Cruise Director: Sue Denning (UK)
Ports: Tampa, USA - New Orleans USA - Roatan, Honduras - Belize City, Belize - Cozumel, Mexico

I’m cruising as a solo on this 9-day cruise, unique as we call on NOLA before heading south to the Western Caribbean. This is my first cruise on the 
Celebrity Constellation (Connie), only my 3rd cruise on Celebrity, and my 207th cruise overall.  They do honor my D+ status from Royal Caribbean as an Elite on this sailing. Always nice to sail a new (to me) ship...especially from my new home port of Tampa.
 
Thursday, February 22, 2024  / Embarkation 
I woke at about 7:30 am and finished packing for today’s cruise. I had a Lyft ride scheduled for 9:45 am and he came 15 minutes early but I was ready. Quick ride to the Florida Aquarium and I walked over to the cruise port (#2) arriving at 10:20 am well ahead of boarding. No lines at security or check-in and soon waiting for boarding to begin. They were late starting but still on the ship by 11:15 am. I dropped my carry-on bag in my cabin on deck 2 then went upstairs to the buffet, not busy at all as the Main dining room was also open for lunch on embarkation day. I had Roast Turkey from the Carving Station, Veal Scallopene, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Waldorf Salad, and a selection of various small desserts including Bread Pudding. Very good and has a nice view of Tampa. The weather has turned out very nice and sunny too. A good start to the day and cruise. I went to my muster station on deck 4 then to the Cafe al Bracio on deck 5 not for coffee but a Diet Coca-Cola…I like their large chairs and view. I was able to log into my WiFi account and monitor the Market on this great up day and start this blog review until the cabins officially opened. You are allowed to drop your bags and pick up your Cabin card until the cabin is cleared usually by 1:30 pm. I set up my cabin and had plenty of room for hanging and also lots of storage areas. I will have to carefully open all the cabinets and drawers to ensure I have everything on the final day. The cabin may be the largest interior space I have had on a ship and I actually like the location even though it is on the lower deck. It is very convenient to the aft elevators. After watching Sail Away from Deck 11, I had a beer ($11+) at about 5:00 pm at Cellar Masters (the wine bar). I’m really looking forward to the Elite Happy Hour from 5:00-7:00 pm beginning tomorrow as drinks are very dear on the ship. I did a walkabout and stopped at the Captain's Club on deck 3 for a list of Elite benefits. My dinner is at 8:30 in the San Marco Restaurant (MDR) and I’m at an 8-top solo table…we had four at dinner tonight. The menu was good and I ordered: a Beet Salad, Escargot, The featured Prime Rib entree, and Rum Raisin ice creme for dessert. It was good. The table service was excellent. Another walkabout the ship before retiring at about 10:30. It was an easy embarkation day on the Connie.

Friday, February 23, 2024 / at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. We turned our clocks back one hour overnight so I was actually awake at 6:30 am. I went to the MDR for breakfast as it’s a tradition for me on the first full day and I always order the same items. I ordered: Hot Milk, Fruit plate, Eggs Benedict, Hash browns Bacon, and uniquely Canadian Bacon as well. It was all very good as was the service and the fellow guests at our shared window table. The ship has StarLink so very good WiFi throughout the ship. I used it to do business the rest of the morning. At about 1:00 pm I went to the Pool Deck Grill and had a hamburger and fries. It was just OK. I then stopped for a bowl of Rum Raisin ice creme and went to the aft deck to watch the wake. I found a nice table and enjoyed the view and sun for about an hour. I did a walkabout, easy to do on a smaller ship and guests were enjoying the sea day. This was dress Chic night for dinner perhaps the formal evening but unsure. I was at Cellar Masters for Happy Hour just after 5:00 pm to enjoy my complimentary Cosmopolitan cocktails. A table mate by chance joined me later. I went to the Theater for the production show: Soundtrack at 7:00 pm and scored a center row two seat with no seat in front of me, perfect for photographs. I was surprised by the large number of singers and dancers in the cast…it was a big show. Also very enjoyable one of the best I have seen since pre-covid days on MSC. I would see this show again. Dinner tonight was good, I ordered the Escargot, a double Shrimp Cocktail, the Steak Diane entree, and a dessert sampler. It was good and the same four guests attended. Our service was again excellent by our waiter Arta and his assistant Witness. I retired after dinner. It was a restful and nice sea day.
 
Saturday, February 24, 2024 / New Orleans, Louisiana 
Smooth seas overnight and you could feel it when we entered the Mississippi River. At 6:00 am we had a ship-wide emergency announcement from the Captain asking for any guests with O-negative blood to report to the Medical Center. He made an additional (non emergency) announcement at 8:00 am after arrival. The river channel was cleared for the emergency and we arrived 1.5 hours ahead of our scheduled 9:30 arrival. The guest was stable and transferred to an awaiting ambulance. TIP: I leave my TV on the ship information channel overnight so that I can monitor announcements. That is usually the channel that shows the ship's course and location. We all heard the 6:00 am, but I would not have heard the 8:00 am announcement as it went to public areas and not cabins. So up early to update this blog. I left the ship at about 9:30 and walked to the National World War II Museum only 15 minutes away. It was much larger than I anticipated and stayed for three + hours. I saw two feature movies, one in 4D although seems 3D to me…impressive nonetheless. The exhibits were very informative and thorough. The WWII aircraft were impressive. Afterward, I walked to Mothers Restaurant arriving at about 1:40 pm just after the noon rush but still busy. I had a full Ferdie Special and a cup of Crawfish Etouffie. It was dear but very good. I then walked to the Hotel Monteleone and stopped at the Carousel Bar, it was packed. In fact, there were more tourists in NOLA than I have seen outside of Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. I then walked through the French Quarter passing many old haunts such as Brennan’s, Antoines, Court of Two Sisters, Tujagues (Ain’t dere no mo), Cafe du Monde (lines a block long), and Jackson Square. I did get my beignets at the Cafe Du Monde in the Riverside on the walk back to the cruise pier. I also saw the Carnival Valor sailing away downriver. I made it back to the ship at about 5:00 pm. I took a break and then went up to the Sunset Bar located far aft on deck 10 to watch the sunset and then the lights of NOLA. Nice live music began at sundown, very pleasant and enjoyable. Drinking happy hour Coca-Colas also taking some back to the cabin. The Sunset may become my bar of choice for the rest of the cruise. I’m not doing the MDR for dinner as I’ve had enough to eat today. After an evening walkabout I retired to the cabin. A great day in NOLA.
 

Sunday, February 25, 2024 / at Sea

Smooth river and seas overnight as we sailed south on the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico at about 5:00 am. Since I skipped dinner last night I was looking forward to breakfast. I ate soon after the MDR opened and my waiter was Arta so good service. I ordered Hot Milk, a Fruit Plate, three eggs over easy (perfect), Hash Browns, American & British Bacon, and Toast…all were very good. I did a walkabout as I hadn’t really visited deck 4 … nice public spaces and access to the outer boat deck. I went up to Deck 5 and listened to the Oklahoma Sooners early softball game, they won their 66th in a row 8-0. I noticed the sign at the San Marco MDR about lunch being served on Deck 4 so went down to the main level for lunch just getting in before they closed at 1:30. I had a great two-top far aft at the big aft windows. I ordered the Pasta Bolognese as a starter, the Pork Loin entree, and the Cinnamon Ice Creme for dessert. It was very good and I was lucky with the timing. After lunch I returned to the cabin to listen to the end of the second game of Oklahoma Softball I’ve been following the softball team for several years now, only missing a few games. Yes, they won the 2nd Game 9-0 so 67 in a row and 14-0 this season. Again, the Starlink streaming works great on the Constellation. At about 5:00 pm I went up to the Sunset Bar for a beautiful sunset and a couple of cocktails. I then changed for dinner and stopped at Cellar Masters for Cosmopolitans. Elite guests have a 5:00-7:00 pm window for Happy Hour drinks. I then went to the Celebrity Theater for the production show: Broadway Cabaret. It features the 6 lead production singers doing notable Broadway show tunes (photo). Very talented group. The Celebrity Show Band is quite good as well. It’s now rare to find a live band in a production show on a cruise ship. Dinner and service tonight were very good, I ordered: the Escargot, Pasta Fagioli Soup, Wedge the Salad, Steak & Chips entree, and Peach Clafoutis for dessert. A short walkabout of the ship including deck 4 outer boat deck before retiring. It was a good sea day and the first time I actually ate all three meals in the MDR on the same day in many years.
 

Monday, February 26, 2024 / at Sea 

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. At about 9:00 a.m. I went up one deck to Qzine where they serve a light Continental Breakfast Buffet for Elite guests. I had Hot Milk, a Bloody Mary, a variety of fresh fruit, and Danish. It was nice and the Captain came through and stopped at every table. Nice. Later he made his daily 9:45 am announcements saying we had just left the Gulf of Mexico and sailed into the Caribbean…Cuba on our starboard and Mexico on our port side. A beautiful day today too, the warmer weather is most welcome. At noon I went to the San Marco MDR for lunch. I ordered: the Nicoise Salad as a starter, the BBQ Rib entree, and a very nice Orange Panna Cotta for dessert. So nice to have good dining service and tablecloths at a midday meal. I went up to the large Reflections Lounge on deck 11 forward to just enjoy the great view. They had music, trivia, and bingo at the time I was up there relaxing. I picked up ice on the way back to the cabin for my Coca-Cola and movie time. I watched: The Beach (2000) with a young Leonardo DiCaprio, I had never seen it…it was good. I went up to the Sunset Bar to watch the sunset and take some photos. Anthony and Made took care of me with an interesting Beach-themed cocktail and some cokes for later. The show this evening was a Magician, but I’m not into magic so I watched the Guest lecturer's presentation from this morning on the Cabin TV. The subject was the lost Titanic Baby and how the identity was determined from DNA. He is very good and I’ll try to catch his next presentation on the last sea day. We had three at dinner tonight. I ordered: the Escargot, Broccoli Soup, the Chicken entree (pass), and a very nice Cherries Jubilee for dessert. Witness was our primary waiter tonight. I wanted to see a late Motown show in the Reflections lounge, but retired…I’m now at that age where 10:30-11:00 pm shows are not quite as appealing. It was another nice sea day on the Connie. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 / Isla Roatan, Honduras 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. We arrived early as scheduled and we were cleared by 7:15 am. We are docked at Coxen Hole. I was on the very first regularly scheduled cruise ship to have docked here in the 1980s on a Texaribbean cruise on NCL out of Houston’s Barbers Cut. I have returned guessing 40+ times since and have witnessed all the changes over the years. A natural beautiful island and rare in the fact that cruise ships have improved the condition of the locals and the island itself. I went to Qzine again for breakfast as it’s so convent…Danish and assorted fruits with hot milk. I relaxed all morning then went for lunch in the buffet at about noon. I had Linguine & Meatballs from the Pasta Station with a green salad. After lunch, I went off the ship and noticed that they are building a huge swimming pool (photo) at the port area, which would be good for people who didn’t want to leave the port area. I went into Coxen Hole and it’s changed with more local vendors. I found the no-name bar (a local bar) out over the water and enjoyed Salva Vida beer, I could get three for the price of one beer on the ship plus WiFi so I spent my afternoon there. It was fun. I was back on board before 5:00 pm. I went up to the Sunset Bar with some Pizza for a light snack. The mountains on the island blocked the sunset but sailing away was nice…Made prepared my frozen concoction and served it in my silicon glass so it was a relaxing evening. I changed before dinner (no shorts in MDR) and we had all four solos attending. Tonight I ordered: the Spiced Louisiana Gumbo, a Shrimp Cocktail, Escargot, the Chicken Cordon Bleu entree, and a Pana Cotta for dessert. The entree was excellent and again great service. I retired after dinner as it was a long and enjoyable port day.
 
Wednesday, February 28, 2024 / Isla Roatan, Honduras 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. We were anchored off the reef outside Belize City by 7:00 am and Tenders began soon afterward. I plan to stay on board the ship as I have visited here many times. Use the search query in this blog for information on my on-shore Belize adventures. Just before they closed at 9:00 am I went to the MDR for breakfast. Arte was my waiter and I again had a two-top at the aft windows, I could see Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships at anchor. I ordered a nice breakfast: a Fruit Plate, Hot Milk, Danish, Eggs Benedict, Hash Browns, with English (2) and American Bacon. Excellent. My cabin was made up when I returned so very efficient all around. I took time doing some business then went on a walkabout ending up at the Deli Section of the buffet on deck 10. I passed it on the way to the Sunset Bar and decided to stop…they have a great setup with pre-made sandwiches or made-to-order, including steak. I did have to get a sample while there. After my walkabout, I had movie time. I highly recommend Fisherman’s Friend’s a true story about a singing group from Cornwall. I went to Sunset Bar and watched us sail away from Belize and enjoy some cocktails made by Made (maw-dee). I watched the group Waves in the Rendezvous Lounge before going to dinner in the San Marco Dining Room. Tonight I ordered the Escargot a la Bourguignonne, Creamy Smoked Tomato Bisque, Beef Wellington, Broiled Lobster Tail, and Baked Alaska, all very good. I retired after dinner as I needed to rest for Cozumel. It was a beautiful day for a call at Belize.
 
Thursday, February 29, 2024 / Isla Cozumel, Mexico 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. The Captain woke me with an arrival announcement at about 8:45 am and soon we were cleared. We also change our time back to Eastern Time overnight.  I skipped breakfast as I wanted to arrive at Del Mar Latino by 10:00 am. I was off the ship at about 9:40 am and a casual stroll to the club arriving right on time. I staked out my lounger for the day and Jassy (jazzy) was my server for the day. She has cut her hair so a different look…she is the best server here too. I started with Coca-Cola Light and Coconut Shrimp for breakfast…nice. I did bring my beach glass so more ice as I like it. Quick dip in the pool to cool off from the walk and then did some business. I’m unable to use two devices on the ship but here I can use two…I need that for some secure business transactions. I started with Guacamole with Pico de Gallo…it was very good and soon I was on to Mojitos. Food all day has been very good, I ordered: Chicken Tacos, Coconut Shrimp x2, Shrimp Cocktail, Nachos, Coconut Ice Creme, and more. The Jubilee must have left early as by 2:15 pm there were only a dozen people and by 3:00 pm only five guests left at the club. Good for me and the other four. I casually walked back to the ship arriving back by 5:00 although embarking wasn't until 6:30 pm. After cleaning up I went to the Sunset Bar to watch our sail away and have a Made special. It was a very nice evening. The late dining has really worked well for me this cruise, especially with the 5-7:00 pm complimentary Elite Happy Hour and 7:00 pm showtimes. We had three for dinner tonight and the menu was interesting, I ordered: Classic Cesar Salad, Escargot, the Beef Bourguignonne entree, and Bananas Foster for dessert. I did do a short walkabout before retiring. It was a great day in Cozumel.

Friday, March 1st, 2024 / at Sea 

Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. At about 9:00 am. I went up to Qzine for the Elite Continental Breakfast. I had Hot Milk, Danish, and Assorted Fruits. Very convenient for me just a few feet from my cabin. My goal for our final sea day is to pack, watch two OU softball games, and get a Celebrity Future Cruise certificate. I did some business and did some packing in the morning then went up to the Buffet for some very nice Fish & Chips, I lucked out as they brought out a fresh batch just as I got to the top of the line for them. Patience had its virtue. I ate outside on the aft deck…very enjoyable. I then a walkabout and stopped for the Futures Desk on deck 5, not waiting at all for a desk to open and very soon I had my Future cruise certificate paid for and a new Celebrity credit card. I took ice back to the cabin to enjoy Coca-Cola for the softball game. The Starlink on board makes it so easy to stream sports or movies…even in an interior on deck 2. The first game was very exciting and the first played in the new Love’s Field, OU won in the bottom of the 7th 9-7. I went up to the Sunset Bar between games for my final Cocktails. I went to the Theater for the final feature production ROCK by the full cast of performers. It was weaker than the first two, but they were one singer short too. I was able to keep track of the 2nd Softball Game and watched the ending as OU won 8-0 in 5 innings. Final dinner tonight and it was good. I ordered: a Cobb Salad, Escargot, Prime Rib of Beef, Chicken Chiquita, and a Sticky Toffee Pudding & a Blackberry-Ainse Glace for desserts. I did enjoy my three dining companions…all very different…but enjoyable company. I retired to the cabin to pack and prepare for debarkation tomorrow.

 

Saturday, March 2nd, 2024 / Debarkation

They had a Helicopter evacuation during the night off the coast of Naples FL so we were within the Telephone range off Sarasota from midnight. We docked as scheduled at about 6:30 a.m. Not as many guests did the self-walk off debarkation so it was very easy. I went down to Deck 4 and the MDR with my bag for a full breakfast at about 6:50 am, Afterward I proceeded to walk off the ship…no lies, no crowd at all. I walked over to the Florida Aquarium and requested a Lyft ride. I was picked up within 8 minutes ($54.99). I was home before 9:00 am Easy morning.


Cabin

I had 2183 and was leery of the location until I boarded and then I liked the location…and excellent for port days. Large space and a large bathroom for an interior. Lots of storage. Neutral colors, no seating other than a chair at the vanity/desk, but a nice portable table that will go over the bed if needed. I like the Pillow situation, you receive one firm and one soft pillow (MSC does the same). The BR has a nightlight…always useful. Downside: Lots of doors slamming from the door into the crew area cabins.


Dining / Food 

The meals in the MDR are very good, and the service and settings are wonderful. I love the tablecloths. The wait staff Arta and Witness were excellent, very pleased with the service. The buffet food was good to very good. Favorites: Carving Station, Pasta Station, Deli Section, and Salad Bar. I did not do a specialty restaurant.

 

Highlights of the Cruise

Port Day in New Orleans

Production Shows in theater

Port Day in Cozumel

Service and food in the San Marco restaurant

Sunset Bar

 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

MSC Seashore Cruise Review - February 4, 2024

 

MSC Seashore Cruise Review - February 4, 2024
 
Just the Facts:
Ship: MSC Seashore - 2020 - Weight: 169,400t - Capacity: 4,540 passengers
Captain:  Stefano Aiello (Italy)   Cruise Director:  Endrigo Martin (Brazil)
Ports: Port Canaveral, USA - Ocean Cay, Bahamas (overnight) - Cozumel, Mexico - Costa Maya, Mexico

I’m cruising as a solo on this 7-day cruise, basically a repeat of the same cruise last month. This is my second cruise on the Seashore, my 21st cruise on MSC, and my 206th cruise overall.  I do have Diamond status, the highest of the MSC Loyalty Club levels. The decorating theme of the Seashore is New York City.

Sunday, February 4 / Port Canaveral / Embarkation / Day 1 

I have an early boarding time, last month worked so well I am driving late. I left the Florida Villa at about 11:15 a.m. for the drive to Port Canaveral. I arrived at Park-N-Cruise at about 1:30 pm., a very efficient parking company I have used for years now and soon I was on my way to the port terminal. I arrived at Pier number 10 at about 1:50 pm grabbed my bags and went up to the escalator, no line whatsoever. I went up one level to port security and through quickly. They had a Diamond card line and I went directly to a check-in counter. Very smooth process when arriving later and I was able to go straight to my cabin arriving on Deck 12 at about 2:15 p.m. I have a balcony cabin located all the way forward, actually the second cabin so a long walk to the closest (forward) elevator/stairwell. The cabin is very comfortable, especially for a solo. The cabin has a Queen bed, Wardrobe, Large screen Television, a Counter/dressing table with mirror, a Small stocked refrigerator, Shelving, and drawers inside the wardrobe, a Couch, and a small but adequate bathroom with a solid glass door shower. It’s a bit different from last month with the couch on the balcony side. After I unpacked and set up my cabin I went to the Brooklyn Bar and a Bar Server came to me straightaway and asked if I wanted a Cosmopolitan. I think that even without the drink package this will be a fine cruise as far as cocktails are concerned. Muster Drill began at about 3:45 pm. I positioned myself so that I got my card scanned at my Muster Station C (upper Theater) very early and avoided the crowding. I preordered the premium WiFi package and the reception in my cabin was good. They are strict about one device…and you can not change from a Laptop to an iPhone. I have a 5:00 pm dinner assignment in the 5th Avenue Dining room (MDR), located on deck 6 aft…it’s going to be a long walk, but probably needed. I’m assigned a 9-top solo table, but only two showed tonight, it is a very early dining time. Personally I was ready as I did not visit the Buffet today as I had lunch before leaving this morning. Dinner and service was good. For dinner, I ordered the Tomato Basil Soup, a very nice Scallop Ceviche, and the Roast Beef entree…it was all very good. For dessert two wonderful Crema Catalonia. After dinner, I did a walkabout (photo) then retired to the cabin early. I updated this blog, then it was into bed and some TV after a busy day.

 

Monday, February 5th / Ocean Cay Marine Reserve / Day 2 

Smooth seas overnight just enough movement for a very enjoyable night's sleep. The bed is very comfortable with good pillows. We were docked at about 7:00 am and it is an overcast day…the Captain has already announced that we will not overnight here as worse weather is forecast for tomorrow, but I am very skeptical about that. I believe that they will use any pretense to cancel as it means less fuel and an extra casino night. I went to the MDR for breakfast at about 8:00 am and had a shared table. I ordered a Fruit Plate, Danish, Eggs Benedict with a side of Bacon, and hash brown potatoes. I was served Hot Milk which is not always easy to get on other cruise lines but very common on MSC. One advantage of this far-forward cabin is that the lighthouse is right off of my balcony…so I have a great view of the entire island. I did my usual Monday morning business activities and enjoyed cabin time. There was a big Thunderstorm mid-morning and they requested guests to return to the ship due to the lightening. We temporarily lost WiFi so I watched the movie The Yellow Rolls Royce on TCM. It was very good. I went up to deck 16 just to get a good view of the island. Guests returned as the weather cleared. The water here is beautiful and the Palm trees look better with every visit. This stop will only improve over time. I had a slice of Pizza while on deck 16. MSC is well known for its excellent pizza and this slice was excellent. I took ice and a Coke Zero back to the cabin. I watched the movie Libel this afternoon. I considered going to the beach as we had sun by 3:30 pm, but with the cool air and early dining decided to stay on board. An advantage of having cruised so many times is that I can do whatever I wish on a cruise...not feeling as if I 'have' to follow a cruise schedule. I went to dinner at 5:00 pm and there was a retired couple from Florida so they busted the solo table, still set for 9 though. Our wait team was good and had my water and my bread straightaway. It was Caribbean Night, but I stayed away from those choices, I ordered: two Shrimp Cocktails, the BBQ Pork Ribs entree, and Key Lime Pie & Arroz con Leche for dessert. It was a very good meal. Afterward, I did a long walkabout stopping at several venues, the production show was a Magician, but I don’t do magicians. They did an abbreviated light show from the island and lighthouse before sailing away. It was a different kind of day at Ocean Cay.

Tuesday, February 6th / Ocean Cay now Sea Day / Day 3 

Rolling seas overnight and I slept well, waking in the night to update this blog. At about 9:00 am I was up and about and prepared for the Diamond Party @ 10:00 am. It was held in the Brooklyn Cafe and they offered the usual MSC complimentary cocktails and some hors d'oeuvres. Nice entertainment by a Jazz group with a female singing Torch Music, my personal favorite. A full room but fewer guests than last month. Hosted by the Cruise Director Endrigo Martin with some senior officers attending. It was a nice event and I scored two Diet Cokes to take back to the cabin. When I arrived back Adam (from the Grenadines), my Cabin Steward, had just started my cabin so I was going to wait on the balcony, but I told him the MSC story about the cabin steward locking us out on the balcony under a similar circumstance. Well, we ended up swapping tales for 15 minutes. I observed him work and I must say he is most efficient. Guests that have him are very lucky. At noon I went to the Central Park MDR for lunch. I ordered the Tex-Mex Chicken Salad, a very nice Veal Scaloppini Piccata, and Pistachio ice creme for dessert. It was nice with tablecloths and proper table service…something that some cruise lines no longer have. High seas and I’m having Cabin time this afternoon. It is an especially nice option with a balcony. I got very busy booking cruises…five deposited and two held for the inaugural MSC cruise out of Galveston, Texas in 2025. I had reservations at Ocean Cay the premium seafood restaurant at 6:30 pm. I’m using my Diamond benefit here for a complimentary meal. I ordered: the Nicoise Salad, Carpaccio of Red Prawn (interesting), and the Black Cod entree. It was very good and served with Breads and a small piece of Birthday Cake…worked well as I had traded my dessert for a second Appetizer. Following dinner, I went to the Brooklyn Cafe for a couple of Cosmopolitans and listened to the Jazz Trio for an hour. I do love Torch Music...I skipped my reservation for Encore in the theater as I saw it last month. A busy sea day for me and I retired to the cabin that had been turned down for me by Adam. I’ll enjoy the rolling seas tonight.
 
Wednesday, February 7th / Day at Sea / Day 4 
Smoother seas today and I slept very well. At about 8:00 am I went to the Central Park MDR for breakfast ordering my usual. I had a nice 6-top table with a porthole view and very nice guests. I did a short walkabout afterward when it was not busy noticing the beauty of most of the public spaces. MSC has always done very well in unique decors. This ship should sail from New York as the NYC theme is so well done. Adam had changed my linens and tidied up the cabin by the time I returned.   I had cabin time most of the day and watched a movie on TCM.  Also booked more cruises for clients.  Guests are on outer decks today as we had a beautiful day and I’ve enjoyed the balcony.  At about 3:15 pm I went to the Brooklyn Cafe for cocktails, then to the 4:00 pm Gold card party in the Le Cabaret Rouge (photo).  It was interesting and fun.  I then went next door to the 5th Avenue MDR for dinner, we had six at our table this evening…we are growing.   I ordered three Shrimp Cocktails, the Coq au vin Chicken entree, and Apple Strudel for dessert.  It was good.  Then it was time for the 7:30 production show Divas in the Madison Theater.  It was colorful and entertaining featuring the Seashore Singers and Dancers.  It was a busy afternoon/evening so I retired by 9:00 ish.  A very nice sea day on the Seashore.
 

Thursday, February 8th / Costa Maya, Mexico / Day 5 

Calmer seas overnight and I slept very well. We arrived several hours early by 7:00 am as I was up using the WiFi. I slept a bit longer and then checked the beautiful weather we have today. At about 9:30 am, I went up to the buffet for some Eggs, Potatoes, and Bacon. I left the ship after breakfast and made my way to the taxi stand for a shared taxi ($4 pp) to the old village of Mahahual. There are three ships docked today and a lot of people at the port area. We arrived in Mahahual and I made my way to El Faro. That was our favorite hangout before Hurricane Dean wiped out everything in 2007 and where I hung out last month. They have now built permanent Palapas and the new Palm trees now cover shade on the beach. It wasn’t as busy today and I did get a shady table with great sea breezes. My server was the nephew of my server from 18 years ago so he called me Tio and I called him Sobrino. I had two nice MX Coca-Colas and later two large Mango Margaritas (photo). No food during this visit. The water was excellent and the beach was nice. From the water you can see the huge Cruise Ships in the distance, Pelicans and Albatrosses flying about, and the abundant beach activities. I got a shared taxi back to the port at about 3:00 pm and soon back on the Seashore. Rested and enjoyed the view from the balcony until time for dinner. Tonight I ordered the Asparagus Soup and three Shrimp Cocktails as starters both very good. Then the featured Steak Diana entree, with the Coconut Tapioca for dessert. It was a very nice dinner. tonight was my favorite Production Show: The Journey. It featured the Singers and Dancers doing a set of classic songs set in various European Countries. Unique costumes and a talented group. My favorites were France with Le Vie en Rose & The Can Can dance routine and Italy with O Sole Mio, the Godfather theme (dance), and the classic Con te partirĂ². BTW Con te partirĂ² has been the theme song for MSC since it was written in 1995. It was a very busy, tiring, and fun day in port and on the Seashore.

Friday,  February 9th   /  Cozumel  /  Day 6 
Smooth seas overnight, just enough rocking for a good night's sleep. I woke at about 6:00 a.m. and we were about to dock at Puerto Langosta. At about 9:30 am I was off and walking into town, I love docking at this pier, so much easier for the things I usually do when in Cozumel. My first stop was at Woody’s Bar & Grill as they are now open for breakfast. I did order the Migas. I made it to Antonio’s Barber Shoppe for a haircut by 10:40 a.m. ... another very good haircut too. No ZensiSpa this trip. The fast WiFi, Live Entertainment by Michael (photo), great Mexican Coca-Cola, and good Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, and Bohemia beer were very great on this nice and cooler day at Woody's. I did have a nice visit with Nelly too. I casually began walking back to the ship at about 3:15 earlier than usual and I made it back on board before 4:00 pm. I refreshed and relaxed before my 5:00 pm dinner in the MDR. Tonight I ordered the Penne all Amatriciana pasta as my starter, the Honey BBQ Meatloaf entree, and a Butter Pecan Ice Creme for dessert. After dinner, I did a walkabout the ship and then retired to the cabin. I had three new cruise bookings to do and I watched the movie The Sting on TCM. Long day so sleep time was welcomed. It was another great port day in Cozumel. 
 

Saturday, February 10th / Day at Sea / Day 7 

Some rolling seas overnight, just enough rocking for a good sleep. I had a relaxing morning the went up to the Buffet at about 10:00 am. The timing was good as I waited in the buffet line for Bacon to be replenished they also brought out fresh eggs. Nice. I do wish that Cruise lines would learn that if sailing from the USA (and especially Texas) you must have Catsup and Ranch Dressing. Beautiful weather today for sitting outside in the aft, but as we sailed north the wind and weather became more harsh. I had some work today as the MSC representative told me how to link all the recent bookings I did on the Texas inaugural. Tedious but a good day to do it. I did a walkabout in the afternoon: I registered a credit card that I failed to do earlier, made reservations for Hola!, and visited the Brooklyn Cafe. I went to Hola! at 6:30 for a great meal, I saved the best for last. I ordered three different Street Tacos (photo), the Chili con carne hard Taco, Guacamole plus a refill later, a nice Queso Fundito, and two Enchilada entrees: Pork with Mole sauce and Chicken with Verde Salsa. For dessert a very nice Flan. It was all very good with excellent service. After dinner, I had cabin time and also began packing. It was a nice final sea day on the MSC Seashore.


Sunday, February 10th / Port Canaveral / Debarkation

Fair seas overnight and I slept well although up well before my 6:00 am alarm. We arrived on time and were docked just after 6:00 am. I finished packing and was at the self-debark location at about 6:35 a.m. We began leaving early at about 6:45 a.m. and thanks to facial recognition we were soon on the street. I was on the parking shuttle bus by 7:18 and on the road by 7:30 a.m. Stopped for groceries, washed the car, and was home at about 10:00 a.m. Easy Peasy.



Ship

Maiden Voyage: 2017 I Gross Tonnage: 153,500 tons

Passenger Capacity: 5179 | Crew: 1413 I Length: 323 meters/1060 ft

Max Cruising Speed: 22 knots I Avg Speed 21 knots

Installed power: Diesel (40,000kW) I Propulsion: Twin propellers

17 passenger decks Builder: Fincantieri

Godmother: Sophia Loren


Cabin

I had cabin 12006 a starboard side balcony located on deck as far forward as you can go with a long walk to the forward elevators. Storage is fine if solo. The toilet seems smaller perhaps because the glass shower doors restrict movement. The cabin has a push-button safe, twin/king beds, a large padded headboard, two small nightstands, wall-mounted wall lights, a large mirror, a small refrigerator, a small table/bench (unusual), and a nice TV with interactive features. My cabin steward Andy was very good.



Dining / Food 

The dinners in the MDR are very good, service and settings were wonderful. I love the tablecloths. Our wait staff were excellent, very pleased with the service. The buffet food was good to very good. Not as many selections as in the past, but the food variety was fine. Favorites: all the Pizza, all the Pasta, Guacamole, Hamburgers, and Salad Bar. I only did one specialty restaurant: The Butcher’s Cut and it was very good. I may say the Seaside food seems better than the Seashore.


Comments - MSC Cruise Line

MSC is very different than the usual American cruise lines and if you're looking for the same experience it will be much different. You may like the differences or you may be very unhappy with the differences. As an experienced cruiser, I love different. If you don’t like change or are not flexible you will probably NOT like sailing a European cruise line. Following are my personal observations on sailing MSC:  


MSC Pluses

Beautiful Public Rooms, Good MSC Production Shows and entertainment, Quality and Beautiful Themed Bars, Nice Cabins, Hot Milk readily available on buffet and MDR, Attentive bar servers, and Good MDR Breakfasts. Tablecloths.


Changes since Covid

Announcements are now only in English

Fewer children since they changed the ‘Children sail free’ promotion.

Many more American guests result in more: Scooters, Wheelchairs, and complainers.

 
Highlights of the Cruise
Hola! Tacos and Cantina
Port Days in Cozumel and Costa Maya
Service in Brooklyn Cafe
Jazz Trio
Ocean Cay Seafood Restaurant